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Illustration MA

  • Level(s) of Study: Postgraduate taught
  • Start Date(s): September 2023
  • Duration: 1 year (45 weeks)
  • Study Mode(s): Full-time
  • Campus: City Campus
  • Entry Requirements:
    More information


Our Masters in Illustration is specifically designed to help you develop and craft your personal visual language, taking your illustrative practice to the next level. Combining theory and practice, you will create a bespoke portfolio that truly represents you as a creative. You will have the opportunity to engage in three areas of Illustration Research Excellence: Narrative, Entrepreneurial and Experimental Illustration. You will join other creative minds and collaborate with postgraduate students across the School of Art and Design; and you will focus on your professional journey as an illustrator/academic.

  • Attend workshops covering: Visual Sequence in children's books, Graphic Novels and Storytelling, Visual Identity for Illustrators, Illustrative Ceramics, Watercolour for illustrators, Undigital digital, Cinema 4D and Adobe After Effects.
  • Opt for an additional advanced research module if you’re thinking of progressing to PhD or Professional Doctorate study.
  • Engage with industry through guest lectures from renowned illustrators and publishers and studio visits.
  • 83% of NTU's research submitted to the 'Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory' Unit of Assessment was assessed to be world-leading or internationally excellent in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.

What you’ll study

In our studio-based illustrative masterclass series, delivered by a team of internationally recognised illustrators and academics, you will engage in hands-on, practical experiences including workshops in areas such as Sequence in Children's Books, Graphic Novels, Illustrative Ceramics, Watercolour for illustrators, Undigital digital Image, Cinema 4D and Adobe After Effects. Complimentary to this is our unique Professional Futures module and Advancing Research Design module, which are designed to help focus and enhance your future career ambitions, whether those are commercial, experimental, or academic. You will leave us confident and equipped to succeed in your chosen visual field, whether industry or academia.

Visual Enquiry and Imagination

(40 credit points)

Drawing and image making are key this module which will allow you to experiment and situate your practice. You will explore your personal visual identity and practice through observation and imaginative enquiry. You will develop an understanding of the synergy between theory and practice by creating a reflective written piece to accompany your portfolio work. You will also have the opportunity to demonstrate the skills and knowledge needed to frame your future MA project proposal.

Culture and Collaboration

(20 credit points)

On this module you will develop an advanced level of understanding of the wider cultural context for current and future work. Within this module you will collaborate with masters students across the school of art and design on a negotiated theme relevant to contemporary debates in art & design. Together you will produce an outcome contributing to a collective festival of ideas. You will gain skills in research, analysis, ideas generation, critical thinking, communication, and presentation.

Masters Portfolio of Practice

(100 credit points)

On this module you will create a personalised professional portfolio aligned to your professional ambition and direction. You will expand your future practice through further exploration, experimentation and risk taking, to establish modes of practice to prepare you for your future career. Whichever route you decide to take with your MA project, you will be encouraged to take creative risks by pushing your work in new and exciting directions. You will leave us confident and equipped to succeed in your chosen visual field, whether industry or academia.

Advancing Research Design: Maximising your Methods

(20 credit points)

The multi-disciplinary module provides an explorative platform for you to use as the basis for further research-based study, or if you want to extend your knowledge of research methods and methodologies, to enhance your future professional practice or if you are considering progression to PhD level study.

Optional module:

Professional Futures

(20 credit points)

This optional module is offered to all students on our Visual Communications courses. This module aims to provide you with the space to explore and share ideas, future gazing professional opportunities in visual communications. You will collaborate with students from all subject areas in visual communications and will form cross-disciplinary debate and discussion in relation to employment, enterprise, and innovation.

Don’t just take our word for it, hear from our students themselves

Student Profiles

Pei-Chia Pai


In school, we respect each other and learn about different cultures. We also exchange learning experiences and living habits with each other to try to blend into the multi-faceted cultures. It was a very rare and precious experience that enhanced my horizon.

Pin Shuan Chen (Tiffany)


I would recommend this course because the staff are very friendly and are always willing to help.

Charlotte Southall


There are lots of creative opportunities in Nottingham and throughout the year, the course staff have really emphasised and encouraged me to go out and discover what design events are taking place around the city.

Luna Valentine


Georgia Duncan


The facilities are unmatched, as far as your imagination, ambition and ideas go.

Video Gallery

Find out what life as an MA Illustration student is really like
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How you’re taught

Teaching and learning experiences will include:

  • lectures
  • individual and group tutorials
  • seminars
  • workshops
  • live projects and competition briefs
  • independent studio practice
  • self-directed research

Specific workshops may include:

  • Visual identity for Illustrators
  • Sequential Illustration
  • Children’s Book Design
  • Graphic Novels: an Introduction
  • Typography
  • Editorial Illustration Ideation

Find out when our postgraduate term dates for the Nottingham School of Art & Design are. Please note that these are slightly different to other Schools within the University.


Assessment is 100% by coursework and involves:

  • project proposal
  • set project research and development
  • professional journal
  • practical work
  • verbal and visual presentations
  • the planning and design of a display of your work

Further information

Create a project tailored to your own personal illustrative interests and career aspirations.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF)

By daring to think differently our research is tackling real-world issues. The subjects you will study with us are informed by our research so you can be sure your knowledge will be cutting-edge in your field. In the last Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) - the UK's system for assessing the quality and impact of research in universities - 83% of our research in Art and Design was assessed to be world-leading or internationally excellent.

Staff Profiles

Sarah McConnell

Senior Lecturer

Nottingham School of Art & Design

Sarah McConnell is Course Leader of MA Illustration in the School of Art & Design at Nottingham Trent University. She is a widely published Author/Illustrator of Children's books.

Carol Adlam

Senior Lecturer

Nottingham School of Art & Design

Carol Adlam is an author-illustrator specializing in book illustration (graphic novels, children’s books, and reportage).

Careers and employability

Career Prospects

This course will equip you with strong creative and problem-solving skills. Our graduates become valuable members of professional teams working together on a range of visual communication projects, involving all kinds of cross-discipline collaborations.

Our graduates often pursue careers in digital and printed media for advertising, branding, marketing and promotion, and a diverse range of publications.

Recent graduates roles and destinations include:

  • Illustrator represented by Bright Agency
  • Designer: Penguin Books, Publishers
  • Graphic designer, Dot Dash Design
  • University Lecturer National Institute of Fashion Technology Delhi

Connections with Industry

We’ll support and encourage you to undertake short internships and studio visits to engage with industry. You’ll also have the opportunity to enter industry competitions and take on live projects.

Recent examples have included:

  • RSA competition briefs
  • Creative Conscience competitions – focused on ethically conscious design
  • Collaborative projects with galleries such as Nottingham Contemporary
  • Stratford Literary Festival and Salariya Children’s Picture Book Prize
  • The Macmillan Prize for Illustration

You’ll benefit from guest lectures from visiting professionals who will cover a wide range of creative and professional practice. Recent guests have come from companies such as:

  • Alexis Deacon, children’s book author and illustrator
  • Roderick Mills, artist and illustrator
  • Chrissie Levett, from Creative Conscience Awards
  • social media entrepreneur, Debbiedooodah

You’ll have the opportunity to learn entrepreneurship skills through business development courses at NTU Enterprise - our centre for entrepreneurship and enterprise, and attend events held by industry experts and organisations. You will keep a professional journal, which you will develop throughout the course to become an in-depth examination of current professional theory and practice in your specialist subject area.

You will also attend work-related learning sessions on topics such as self-promotion and marketing, interview skills, and CV and portfolio building.


Explore our showcase ‘We Are Creatives’ - celebrating the work of the School of Art & Design students. You will find a sneak peak of some of our students’ work and gain a real insight into what it’s like to be part of the NTU creative community at

Study trips

Study trips will inspire and inform your projects. Recent visits have included the Manchester Design Conference, and the First Tuesday and Raw Print industry networking events in Nottingham.

You’ll also have the opportunity to go on a study trip to design capitals like Berlin or New York, where you’ll visit internationally renowned design studios.

YouFirst – working with our Employability Team

Our friendly, experienced careers consultants will work closely with you at every stage of your career planning, providing personal support and advice you won't find in a book or on the internet. You can benefit from this at any time during your studies and up to three years after completing your course.

Re:search Re:imagined

To us, research is about more than writing papers and proposing new ideas. By daring to think differently, we’re disrupting the research landscape and finding the answers to the questions that really matter. From electronic textiles to the history of lace, we’re inspiring the brightest minds to rise up and find solutions to some of the most significant global challenges facing society.

Find out more:

Campus and facilities

You’ll be based in the Waverley building – a beautifully restored, listed building with real design heritage dating back from 1863 – the original home of the Nottingham School of Art. Our City Campus is right in the heart of Nottingham city centre.

Explore all of our facilities in our Nottingham School of Art & Design Facilities Hub.

Entry requirements

What are we looking for?

  • 2.2 honours degree in a related subject.
  • Applicants with non-standard entry qualifications and / or relevant work experience will be considered on an individual basis.

Other requirements:

Getting in touch

If you need any more help or information, please contact us at Ask NTU or call on +44 (0)115 848 4200.

You will need one of the following:

  • 2.2 honors degree in a related subject

Other requirements:

International qualifications 

We accept qualifications from all over the world – check yours here:

Postgraduate preparation courses (Pre-Masters)

If you don’t yet meet our entry requirements, we offer Pre-Masters courses through our partner Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC), based on our City Campus:

Fees and funding

Tuition fee for September 2023

Mode of study

Home tuition fee

Student fee


Fee amounts are per year and will increase each year in line with inflation, capped at no more than 5%.

Alumni Loyalty Scheme - 20% fee discount

We're happy to be able to offer a 20% fee discount to most current NTU students and recent NTU graduates.
See if you're eligible.

Postgraduate loans

The government introduced a new postgraduate loans scheme in the 2016/17 academic year for Masters degrees. The loan will be a contribution towards the costs of study and it will be at the student's discretion to use the loan towards fees, maintenance costs or other costs.


We are offering a number of scholarships for Masters study.

Getting in touch

For more advice and guidance, you can contact our Student Financial Support Service on
+44 (0)115 848 2494.

Find out more about our terms and conditions of study for this course.

Tuition fee for September 2023

Mode of study

International tuition fee

Student fee


Fee amounts are per year and will increase each year in line with inflation, capped at no more than 5%.

Alumni Loyalty Scheme - 20% fee discount

We're happy to be able to offer a 20% fee discount to most current NTU students and recent NTU graduates.
See if you're eligible.

International scholarships

You might be able to get a scholarship to help fund your studies. We award scholarships to international students who can demonstrate excellent achievement, passion and dedication to their studies.

Please take a look at our International students page for information about fees, scholarships for international students, visas and much more.

Getting in touch

For more advice and guidance, you can contact our Student Financial Support Service.

Tel: +44 (0)115 848 2494

How to apply

Ready to join us? Then apply as soon as you can. Just click the Apply button at the top of the page and follow the instructions for applying.

Application deadline

You can apply for this course throughout the year, but we'd recommend that applications should be received by the end of July for entry in September.

Examples of work

In order for us to consider your application, we need you to submit examples of your practical work. Please upload these as part of your online application.

For full details on what we require, please read our Masters Work Submission information.

Writing your application

Be honest, thorough and persuasive in your application. Remember, we can only make a decision based on what you tell us. Make sure you include as much information as possible, including uploading evidence of results already achieve, as well as a personal statement.

Keeping up to date

After you've applied, we'll be sending you important emails throughout the application process - so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

You can get more information and advice about applying to NTU in our postgraduates' guide. Here you'll find advice about how to write a good personal statement and much more.

Getting in touch

If you need any more help or information, please contact us at Ask NTU or call on +44 (0)115 848 4200.

Apply online through our NTU applicant portal.

Application advice

Apply early so that you have enough time to prepare – processing times for Student visas can vary, for example.  After you've applied, we'll be sending you important emails throughout the application process – so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

Writing your personal statement

Be honest, thorough, and persuasive – we can only make a decision about your application based on what you tell us:

Your portfolio 

If your initial application is successful, you may be asked to upload a portfolio of your work and you may also be asked to attend an interview.

Portfolio advice

Would you like some advice on your study plans? 

Our international teams are highly experienced in answering queries from students all over the world. We also have members of staff based in Vietnam, China, India and Nigeria and work with a worldwide network of education counsellors.

The University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.